Posted: 01/15/09 17:40
by Dave Mindeman
When I posted about my conversation with County Attorney Susan Gaertner, one of the RNC8 attorneys posted a comment. I contacted him and he agreed to a brief conversation about the trial and other RNC matters.
We talked about the "gag order" that never was. Apparently, he said that the original judge appointed to the case had stated that he would prefer that everyone involved should please refrain from public comment. However, he never made it an offical order. The federal prosecutors had urged that a gag order be issued, but interestingly enough, County Attorney Susan Gaertner argued against it (maybe for political reasons?). The original judge has since recused himself for personal reasons and a new judge has not been appointed. Thus no restriction on public comment is in place.
Regarding the Heffelfinger-Luger report. This attorney said.."The city was simply paying for public relations to cover themselves."
He chuckled at the idea of this being an "independent commission". He said it was run by former federal prosecutors and although other members named to the commission would seem to be independent types, the report is clearly written from the prosecutors point of view.
This attorney had nothing good to say about Sheriff Fletcher. He noted that one of Fletcher's press aides had been involved in a corruption conviction prior to the RNC. Publicity regarding that was washed over by the upcoming convention. Earlier, Fletcher had been the target of a free speech suit that was settled for $750,000 in which some deputies who opposed his election were allegedly retaliated against by being passed over regarding department promotions and other retributions.
Fletcher runs things with an iron fist and nobody that deals with the Sheriff's department has much good to say.
This attorney's client was actually not involved with the original RNC charges. After investigation of the leadership of the RNC Welcoming Committee, his client was charged as part of the "conspiracy". He also pointed out that he is skeptical of County Attorney Gaertner's claim that she was compelled to file the terrorism charges regardless of her discretion, since one of the two terrorism charges came after her protested fundraiser.
This attorney also complained about the vagueness of the Minnesota Patriot Act and its broad authority. He noted that the civil liberties community didn't pay as much attention to this act as it should have and blames Rich Stanek (currently Hennepin County Sheriff, but a MN legislator in 2002) for its ultimate passage.
Finally, out of curiousity, I asked him about the claims that "urine" was confiscated from the apartment searches. He also indicates that he has never seen any concrete evidence that this exists. No one has confirmed or denied its existence. (It will probably continue as an "urban legend" until the trial actually begins.)
As for the trial itself....we do not have a judge. We do not have a court date. This could go get moved into next year.
I don't think Susan Gaertner wants that....not at all.